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Summer Safety Concerns

Schools are out, which brings children and teens outside. They are eager to enjoy the beautiful weather and all that summertime fun entails. For a fun-filled summer vacation free of avoidable injuries, expert tips can help prepare children and those of us working with children during the summer months.

Tips for pedestrians: Of course the obvious guidelines apply, like look both ways before crossing, hold hands with the little ones, listen for oncoming traffic, etc. However, now that the average American 5-year-old has his own phone, adults need to be especially cognizant of the distractibility that phones bring. For day camps or sleepaway camps, children and teens will likely have a smart device with them. While walking, especially in areas with heavy traffic, children should forego the phones. Babysitters, nannies, camp counselors, etc., must encourage walkers to be vigilant while walking. Not only is traffic an issue, but distracted walkers are more likely to incur injuries from stumbles or falls. Earbuds are an added distraction, as children are not able to hear what is happening in their surroundings.  

Tips for the heat/sun: Those of us working with children in the summer must be aware of the early signs of heat exhaustion and dehydration. Camps, pool days, sports—all of these activities can pose a threat when the temperatures spike. Adults cannot assume that children show up to these outdoor activities prepared for the sun. It is imperative to have sunscreen, water, snacks, and basic first aid items on hand.

Knowing the symptoms of heat-related emergencies is also essential. Children on the verge of heat exhaustion may exhibit an unusually flushed or pale face, profuse sweating with chills or goosebumps, clammy or cool skin to the touch, nausea, fatigue, or dizziness. Remove them from the sun or outdoors as soon as possible. Provide them with water and/or fluids with electrolytes and monitor them for faintness, vomiting, or diarrhea. Drinking plenty of cold water during the day is crucial, as well. While in the pool, children may neglect their thirst or need for water. Make sure that children are drinking plenty of water, not just swimming in it!

Tips for safe play: Summertime play can also pose issues if supervision is lacking. Even the most experienced bicyclists, roller bladers, and skateboarders must be cautious. Helmets and other protective gear are a must—no matter how confident the rider may be. Adults should always supervise these activities and ensure that children are wearing visible or reflective gear in the evenings.

Jungle gym and playground enthusiasts need to be monitored carefully, as well.

Experts say that, statistically, monkey bars are the most dangerous playground equipment due to falls. The CDC reports that emergency rooms see around 20,000 traumatic brain injury-related accidents each year caused solely by playground falls. Educators, camp counselors, and sitters must be vigilant while children enjoy the playground—and any indication of a head injury should be checked out by a doctor immediately.

Because of the possibility of bug bites and stings, adults working with children must be up to date on EpiPen training. In order to properly administer Epinephrine Auto-Injector to a child experiencing anaphylaxis, adults must be trained and familiar with each child’s individual allergy threats.

Finally, while no child should play with or anywhere near fireworks, each summer brings firework-related injuries. Even popular items such as firecrackers and sparklers can result in serious burns and other injuries—it’s just not a good idea.  

National Safety Month

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We have all heard the adage, “It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.” Now that summer is officially in full-swing, our focus may be occupied by the exciting seasonal events and occasions popping up. With that, it is important to be mindful of potentially unforeseen dangers that surround us on a regular basis. June is National Safety Month, which makes this the perfect time to raise awareness of how to avoid or effectively manage accidents.

According to the National Safety Council, an average of 150,000 people die each year from “unintentional, injury-related” accidents. Even more eye-opening is the fact that these mishaps are totally preventable, which is why National Safety Month aims to bring awareness to the everyday things in our lives that we may not consider as dangerous. Below are facts about these common dangers and tips for avoiding or handling these accidents.

Poisons

Poisoning recently surpassed car accidents as the leading cause of accidental death in all age groups. We often consider poisonous items to be clearly labeled as “toxic” chemicals—obvious to the eye and stamped with warning labels. While some potentially harmful substances come with clear warning labels and guidelines for use, other products and their dangers are more subtle. The leading cause of death by poison is by unintentional prescription drug overdose or the mixing of prescription drugs. It is vital that parents seek advice about dosage and prescription combinations from doctors and pharmacists. Also, with the rise of new detergent packs for cleaning clothes and dishes, it is more important than ever to keep cleaning products out of reach of children. The detergent packs and dryer beads appear small and candy-like—exactly what a child might reach for. Again, taking just small precautions can make these dangers 100% avoidable.

Traffic Accidents

Car crashes and traffic-related injuries are another cause for concern, especially in the summer when families are hitting the roads for vacation. Speeding, aggressive driving, texting and other distractions are obvious concerns. But other less frequently discussed accidents should be considered, as well. The warm weather brings pedestrians, skateboarders, and bicyclers out onto the roads in much higher numbers. It is important for drivers and others on or near the road to take extra precautions in high-volume areas. Pedestrians, runners, etc., should wear bright reflective clothing and LED lights at night to be visible to drivers. Another danger in the summer is the extreme heat that accumulates in parked cars. Children and pets should never be left in the car unattended, no matter how short you plan to leave them.

Falls

Falling is the leading cause of injury-related death among the elderly. But, it is also the third leading cause of accidental death for all age groups. Gates at steps are a must for little ones, as all parents know. However, slips and head injuries at the pool or waterpark are frequent in the summer months, as well. Remind your child, whether inside or outside, to always walk around the pool. Horseplay and shoving could also cause an unintentional accident.

Water Hazards

Speaking of the pool, the National Safety Council reports that an average of 10 people drown every single day. CNN reports that children can drown in less than two inches of water. This means that pools are not the only dangers lurking in the yard. Buckets, kiddie pools, even puddles or drainage ditches could be cause for concern. The bottom line is, leaving children unsupervised around any amount of standing water is a risk not worth taking.

Keep your eyes on the prize this summer, and all will remain fun and games. With a few precautions and some ground rules in place, you and your children can avoid these pitfalls and score some summer fun.